“The Box Squat and 20 Benefits”
By Sean Wells
The box squat seems to sometimes get a bad reputation, usually from those who have never done it, or from those who did it wrong or continue to do it wrong. When utilized correctly, it is the safest way to squat and produces great results for those people in everyday situations and for athletes of all ages.
We utilize the box squat for everyone we train: personal training, CrossFit, and OC Sports Performance, we all BOX SQUAT!
Here is a list of 20 benefits and a small breakdown of why each is important:
- You are able to use your posterior chain more. The posterior chain is the key to athletics; comprised of your hamstrings, glutes and lower back, it can be developed to a greater extent than using a normal squat.
- The height of the box can change. This allows a coach to ensure the depth needed is getting reached each time. The box height teaches the athlete how to squat to appropriate depth and keeps everyone in balance.
- Changing the height on the box can allow tweaks in technique. The athlete remains healthy and the coach can improve an individual’s performance on the squat.
- When seated on the box, and you stop, and then you start upwards, you have a static overcome by dynamic contraction. Think of a sprinter leaving the starting blocks – this is tremendously important for getting someone faster and everyone can be faster or have more immediate muscle contraction.
- Most people can recover from box squats faster than other squats. The soreness after box squatting isn’t as severe as after free squats. This allows box squats to be utilized more often if necessary. Also the risk of injury and excess fatigue go down. Less soreness in season means we can stay strong in season by lifting weights.
- A box squat is easier to teach. We can set up an athlete with a 20” box. From there we can pull an 1” off the box at a time and gradually improve technique as we do it.
- With proper box squats and box height selection we can work with older athletes, those with joint issues/injuries to get them feeling comfortable. Over time, improving their range of motion.
- The bottom position of the box squat requires extreme tightness in the “core” as getting off the box is the hard part. This portion is training your “core” while you squat.
- Teaching people to get off the box fast is easier to do than having them attempt to bounce out of the bottom of a free squat. The bounce out of the bottom has injured plenty of lifters and can be difficult to “feel” as a new lifter.
- Bar path in a box squat is easier to coach and easier to replicate as it is more similar squat to squat. This improves technique faster than traditional squats.
- The box excels at teaching athletes explosive strength. We can utilize resistance (think bands or chains or a combination of both) on the box as well to further increase the explosive benefits.
- The box is 100% scalable, no matter the ability level we can find a box and start working on the movement pattern.
- In rehab settings for those who are learning to squat after an injury, nothing is more practical than starting from a seated position and teaching those to stand. Everyday athletes have to overcome this when they use the toilet, so it is very functional. : )
- We can monitor the amount of force on the knee by looking at the shin angle. We can continue to squat even with some types of knee issues. This is great for anyone who has had knee issues in the past or is currently trying to work through a knee injury.
- In a group of three athletes we can have them squat together and change height rapidly and ensure each athlete is doing similar work. Same for general population classes that are sharing power racks.
- The box can be lowered if we want to focus on flexibility and still have it be safe and repeatable rep to rep.
- Coaches can cue and “command” athletes from the box to help with their reaction time off the box. This is similar to training sprinters with the starting gun. Or a swimmer with starting blocks.
- The box breaks the eccentric and concentric chain allowing for more power development and getting rid of the stretch reflex or stretch shortening cycle in a free squat.
- The strongest men and women in the world have been box squatters – See Forgotten Secrets of Culver City Westside Barbell Club
- Louie Simmons says so – Louie runs and coaches the World’s Strongest Powerlifting Gym in Westside Barbell, he has produced amazing sprinters, throwers, powerlifters, MMA athletes, amongst hundreds of others, a very impressive resume. While you may not aspire to be any of the above mentioned but a “Louie quote” sums it up best “Weak things break” – build strength and be strong!
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